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Eagle River motorcyclist killed in Seward Highway crash

An Eagle River man was killed in a crash on the Seward Highway near Moose Pass on Sunday afternoon, after he struck a truck driven by a 15-year-old driver who "braked hard," the Alaska State Troopers said.

Aaron Smith, 44, was killed while traveling south on the Seward Highway on a black 1996 Harley Davidson motorcycle, troopers said.

Troopers responded at 1:18 p.m. to the crash, at Mile 42 of the Seward Highway, south of Summit Lake. The Seward Highway was closed for about 1 1/2 hours as authorities investigated the collision.

Smith was following a white 2005 Dodge pickup driven by a 15-year-old from Seward. The truck stopped suddenly and Smith rear-ended it.

"Smith was ejected off the motorcycle and later pronounced dead on scene," troopers said in a statement. "Smith was wearing a helmet."

"The 15-year-old reported wearing her seatbelt and was uninjured," troopers said.

The agency did not name the truck driver. "Impairment and speed" do not appear to be factors, the agency said.

Jonathon Taylor, communications director with the Department of Public Safety, said Monday afternoon that troopers are investigating the case.

Multiple questions are being pursued, including whether the truck driver, under the standard driving minimum age of 16, was legally permitted to drive, Taylor said.

"This is a preliminary investigation. I can't stress that enough," Taylor said.

The review shows that a trooper cruiser was traveling ahead of the pickup truck, though not immediately ahead — two other vehicles separated the cruiser and the truck in the lane, Taylor said.

The cruiser was traveling under the speed limit, began slowing and turned on its lights, then traveled a "considerable distance" before making a u-turn to pursue a speeding driver coming from the other direction, Taylor said.

The motor vehicle collision appears to be the result of vehicles following each other too closely behind the patrol vehicle, he said.

Taylor said the agency issued a press release last week reminding drivers to use caution as more people travel the highway for summer recreation.

"We're very sorry for the loss of the motorcyclist and give our sincerest condolences to his family and friends," Taylor said.

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